Heading into his team's playoff opener with Akron Firestone, Cuyahoga Falls girls basketball Joe Nowak knew his team needed to keep the pace measured.
"I think we came into the game knowing that we were going to have to slow things down," Nowak said. "We wanted to try to create a slower half-court game."
Falls succeeded in putting the breaks on the Falcons, but it wasn't enough to get the win.
Firestone squeezed out a 33-24 win Feb. 18 in a Division I sectional game at Medina. The loss ended Falls' season at 6-17.
Firestone advanced to take on Brunswick Feb. 21 at Medina, but results weren't available at press time.
Nowak said the effort was there for his team.
"Defensively, we executed as well as we could," Nowak said. "To hold a team that regularly scores in the 50s and 60s to the low 30s is excellent. We gave ourselves a chance. That's all you can ask for."
Falls also benefited from the Falcons having an off night at the free-throw line. Firestone went 8-of-28 from the line. Falls struggled as well, going 3-of-13 from the line.
Unfortunately, while the Black Tigers slowed down the Falcons' offense, Falls offense couldn't get going either. Falls managed just nine second-half points.
"Throughout the year, we've struggled on offense," Nowak said. "I think we've averaged 38 points a game. We don't have the firepower that some teams in the tournament do."
Falls trailed by only three points late in the third quarter, but senior forwards Rosie Townsend and Jasmine Eaker each fouled out early in the fourth.
Mary Messner led the Black Tigers with 12 points. Firestone was led by Imani Scott with 15 points.
On the whole, Novak said the season was a growing one for the Black Tigers.
"I think we gained a lot of experience from everybody that played,' Nowak said. "Coming into the year, it was a very inexperienced group in terms of varsity basketball. A lot of the girls who are coming back next year will have lot of experience at this level.
"We proved we could play with almost everybody we stepped on the floor with," Nowak added. "Next year, you'll see a team that's able to win in the fourth quarter instead of coming up short the fourth like we did this year."